Marcus Rashford might be Manchester United’s best player in three different positions

WATCH:(Video) Marcus Rashford doubles United’s lead with 10th PL goal of the season

Man Utd had to dig in to beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Old Trafford and Marcus Rashford’s second-half goal again proved to be crucial.

Marcus Rashford had been playing as a striker for two minutes when he scored a goal that is the bread and butter of every elite goal-getter in world football.

There was a time not so long ago when playing Rashford through the middle would induce a shake of the head from United supporters, but right now the 25-year-old looks like the first name on the teamsheet for all three attacking positions.

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There’s no doubt he is at his best coming off the left for Manchester United, but having spent much of his career pigeonholed in that role, he has shown he can do it all this season.

Rashford impressed for England when playing on the right wing during the World Cup and he’s done a more than credible job through the middle for United this season.

His stats as a starter for his club this season record 12 goals in 20 appearances on the left, six in nine as a striker and one in two on the right, but that doesn’t include the times he has switched position, just like he did against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.

He had been ineffective, for once, on the left as United toiled to put the visitors to bed, but Erik ten Hag called him over when Wout Weghorst was taken off and explained he would be moving into the middle. The improvement was instantaneous.

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A couple of minutes later United produced some of their best build-up play of the game, moving the ball across the box through Alejandro Garnacho before it reached Luke Shaw. Rashford had made a run past the defence for Garnacho but as the centre-backs dropped for Shaw’s cross, the striker just stood still.

It was the kind of movement – or non-movement – of an elite striker. Marc Guehi and Chris Richards dropped onto the six-yard box, but Rashford was still seven yards out. Shaw’s low cross went straight to his feet and the finish was simple. It was reminiscent of his winner against Manchester City last month when he was also moved central and had a defining impact on the game.

That was a dramatic strike whereas it looked like this goal had just killed the game off. There was a twist to come, however, with Casemiro’s red

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United were left desperately hanging on for all three points and it turned out Rashford’s 19th club goal of the season in his 32nd game proved to be more important than it had looked at the time.

Rashford switched back to the left after Jeffrey Schlupp had cut the deficit and he had to do his fair share of defensive work in the final 15 minutes when the United goal was under siege at times. There were a further seven minutes to hold on in added time as well.

When the final whistle went to signal a 13th successive home win Rashford bent down, clenched both fists and let out a primal roar with the rest of Old Trafford. It would be stretching things to say Arsenal’s lunchtime defeat had let United back into the title race, but they did cut the gap to eight points.

All they can do is keep winning and with Rashford in this form, they have every chance of doing that. It’s just a shame he can’t play three roles at once.

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